Food waste is a problem that’s growing worldwide. Today, more than a third of the global food production for human consumption is thrown away or sent to landfills. In wasting food, we’re not only wasting large amounts of finite natural resources but we’re also exposing the environment to harmful gases. Because food waste in landfills decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen), it emits methane gas, which in turn traps heat in the atmosphere.
By cutting down on food waste you’ll not only save money, you’ll also be helping the environment. Here’s how:
One way to prevent food waste is by purchasing “ugly” produce. Many fruits and vegetables that are aesthetically challenged, but still edible, go directly from farms to landfills. Many supermarkets now sell ugly produce at discounted prices, and restaurants are also using them. Check online to see where ugly produce is available for purchase near you.
When shopping, it is also important to be aware of how much produce you can consume before it spoils. Check out this site to see how long various fruits and veggies will last. Similarly, being conscious of portion control while cooking will not only help you practice healthy eating habits, but can also help reduce the amount of any excess food that may go uneaten.
If some food does spoil, you don’t necessarily have to throw it away. Most unprepared produce can be composted. You can also compost cooked produce scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and, in some cases, even paper. There are an endless amount of things to compost. When you compost, microbes, fungi, worms, insects and snails, which are absent from landfills, break the produce down aerobically (with oxygen) and transform your waste into “black gold,” some of the richest fertilizer in the world. This fertilizer can then be used in your own organic fruit and vegetable garden!
3. Eating Leftovers
Some foods, like butter, oil, meat and bones, shouldn’t be composted because of their fatty content. However, another easy way to scale down food waste (and save money) is to eat your leftovers. This practice has dwindled in popularity over the last century as food prices have dropped. When food was more expensive, more effort went into repurposing leftovers into new meals. But now that food is less expensive and more accessible than ever, fewer people eat leftovers, which further contributes to food waste.
Small changes like these can help reduce food waste. Other ways include supporting nonprofits and groups that prevent edible food from going to landfills and companies who donate edible leftover food. Buying from local farmers also lessens the effects of food waste, plus it’s a great way to benefit your community.
Leftovers is some of out most favorite meals. They are often the easiest to make and are great when we have to eat on the run.
I will buy foods that are “out of date” as long as I know they are not going to harm me
Leftovers are rare in our house but when they do happen my husband and son devour them before I get to enjoy them. We also compost although, we aren’t as good about it during the Minnesota winters. We will have to get better at it.
I always eat leftovers and when I had enough the dog gets some too!
I desperately want to compost my F&V scraps but always struggle to get the system correct. This is something I really need to work on!
Save clean veggie trimming in the freezer & when my container is full boil it up & strain for veggie broth
Love this idea!
Not sure if you’re familiar with Sarah Wilson (the “I Quit Sugar” gal), but she’s also passionate about reducing food waste : ) Love my leftovers and have even started cooking up the leaves of my cauliflower when roasting (delicious!).
I always try to buy just what we can eat before it spoils. Left overs are a given. I really try to fix just enough for us to eat. I am working to make my home a safe haven in every way
I love leftovers, especially if it means I get to skip a day of cooking! Often, I’ll eat dinner leftovers for breakfast. Mornings are not my forté, so it’s a no-brainer!
I agree–leftovers are great in reducing the amount of cooking I have to do!
These are great tips! My parents have a compost pile, but being in the city makes it trickier for our family. Do you have any good tips on how to compost when you don’t have much yard space?
I made a note to visit our local Whole Foods and check out the not so pretty produce area and buy it to give to the local homeless shelter. I can’t believe how much food is wasted due to the appearance…but it makes sense, as I am apt to buy the esthetically appealing fruit/veggies. Also, I need to do some research on composting. My mom gathers her fruit and veggies scraps, as well as egg shells (minus the inner lining) and feeds it to her chickens.
We are only two – but I make recipes for 8 to 10.
– Glass containers in the freezer store “ready-to-eat” leftovers for heating over.
– Apart from composting, I often make soups when fresh veggies in the fridge start looking over ripe (They are still good, but sometimes not the right crunchiness), it doesn’t matter in soup.
– Peelings and bits from ends of carrots, beans, etc… cooked in water make excellent vegetable broth – no need to purchase.
Those are a few of my ideas.
Once I see the fruit or veggie about to go bad, I put them in the freezer for a beautiful smoothly. Take out from freezer adding choice of liquid or Soy milk and great for everyone
Left over potatoes mashed add flour ,egg ,salt & pepper mix into a dough .
Roll out cut into shapes or just simple triangles. Put on lightly greased pan fry until golden brown on each side .
Meal planning has been the key for me to reduce our food waste. We compost anything that escapes our attention. We have planned leftovers often. For instance, yesterday’s fajitas are rolled over into tonight’s King Ranch casserole. We don’t eat much meat, but I am careful to not waste any due to the high carbon footprint of raising livestock.
Thanks for your comments, Sherry. As you’ve discovered, a little planning really can go a long way toward creating a more sustainable lifestyle!
Eating leftovers, if I have something that is soon to spoil I will make sure I use it that day. A great examples is Bananas. I make lots of banana bread and store it in the freezer for later.
Love leftovers! Time for the flavours to develop and it often tastes better the next day. Always compost, grow my own veggies, share leftovers with my elderly parents, freeze leftover veggies and add to soups and stews….. on and on
I hate eating leftovers, this is an area I could definitely improve in!
I don’t shop the big box warehouse stores. My supplies would be out of date before I could use them up. Smaller packages may seem more expensive but are not always.
Thank goodness for the freezer I say. Hardly any food is wasted at our place. Good to hear so many people doing the same.
I struggle with throwing food out. Better for my wallet to eat what I buy. We have food recycling for peel and skins etc so feels reassuring to know its not joining landfill.